Archive for December, 2010

Left couple – glued in

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

I again mixed some more mahogany sawdust with my Tightbond glue. It really seems to make it thick, leaving no time to waste, but I did take a quick shot.


Dyed glue to help disguise any open seams

Pressing the veneer in, and rollering it down, I was surprised that there still wasn’t really any glue oozing out around the edges. The only place it came out, like before, was along the bottom.

I didn’t take a picture of it clamped, as it looks just as uninteresting as last time! But I did add a folded up paper towel on top of the wax paper and under the clamping board to allow the pressure to reach the various levels of the different veneers.


The left couple behaved themselves nicely

It came out great. Trimming the bottom went well this time, taking it easy with an X-acto knife, even though there were some small arm and sleeve pieces on the edge .


Should I do something with the middle?

Now I have to open the keyhole back up.

I also have to do a bunch of computer work to get the faces ready to laser etch so they will line up with the actual wooden pieces. There’s no way their original photograph outlines will match what I ended up cutting.

I still have to figure out whether I’m doing a scroll-thing in the middle or not. I have to look back through where I left off in my ideas.

Left couple – recess cut

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

After several hours, one stiff neck and two sore shoulders,  I got the other couple done today!


Clamped in position over keyhole, ready to trace with X-acto knife

I was even able to do it without adjusting the plane. Before, I had gradually increased the depth of the blade. This time I cut lightly without moving the blade until the plane bottomed out . That ensured both recesses would be at the same depth, which will be a big help when doing the sanding.


Planing in progress inside beveled outline

The keychest wood is very nice to work with. Very even grain, doesn’t chip, no problems. It makes it very easy to get a good fitting inlay.


Completed recess

But what about that hole, though? I didn’t want a bunch of glue being squeezed down in there when the marquetry was clamped over it. It is going to be hard enough to carefully clean out the wenge veneer from the opening without having to worry about hard globs of glue, too.

I came up with the idea of sealing off the hole with something light that could easily be removed [unlike the glue]. My first idea was using part of a styrofoam peanut, but it wasn’t easy to cut flush and was crumbly. I ended up with a piece of cardboard from a food box. It fit in there really flat and tight. I believe this will keep out the majority of the glue that would have otherwise ended up in the hole, plus [since it will be glued to the bottom of the veneer] maybe it will help strengthen that while I open up the hole!


Cardboard plug for keyhole to help reduce glue entry

Naturally, I didn’t stop here, I went ahead and glued the marquetry in. It will have all night and most of the day tomorrow to dry. Then we’ll see how it came out.

Left couple – silhouetted

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

I cut out the left couple Friday evening. I had the usual joint-splitting problem from the knife acting as a wedge, so I kept smearing more glue on the back in those areas. There are some small pieces and thin parts near the outline.

The biggest problem with this one was losing the woman’s hair in the back, since it is so small. The glue joint split when trying to cut around it, and it got scraped into the scrap pile before I knew it had come off. I looked all through the dark-colored scraps several times and couldn’t find it. Finally, I did and glued it back in. It didn’t look like I expected it to while it was by itself! I could have made a new one, but this one already fit and was the right shading. I also had to do some thumb surgery because a sliver split off the end.


Couple silhouetted and ready to be cut from scrap background veneer

Yes, the man has a hole in his head! It is going to be even bigger when I put a keyshaft through it. He’ll be surrounding the first keyhole in the bottom row. The keyshafts are wenge, and therefore so is the hatband to act as camouflage. Unfortunately, the wenge veneer is very hard but quite brittle along the grain, and I’m wondering how opening up the hole for the shaft is going to work. It has got to be glued well in that area, that’s for sure. The other thing is that I think the keyshaft hole will be slightly bigger than the height of the hatband, so the disguise won’t be perfect. Aligning it for the best fit will be a little tricky.

Tomorrow being Saturday, I hope to start and perhaps complete the recess for this couple in the keychest. First, I may fine tune some of the edges before tracing the outline onto the keychest.

Right couple – minor disaster

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Well, everything was going too smoothly! I went to do the final step — trimming off the overhang at the bottom, which should have been the simplest part of the whole process. But I didn’t think it through carefully enough, probably because it was just too easy. I used my veneer saw. But those woods used in the clothes are very crumbly, and the saw caused slivers to rip out or flake off  into the image area! I should have used a knife, and taken it much slower, though it would have still done that some, but I would have caught it earlier.


Edge flaking caused by veneer saw, worst part seen in the center

I recovered the most critical of the crumbs [shown], the ones that went the deepest, and glued them back in. I also mixed a drop of glue with some dark sawdust and ran it along the rough bottom edge to try to prevent more flaking.


Sawdust-stained glue bandaging traumatized edge caused by saw

Thankfully, the inlay was mostly still overhanging the keychest piece slightly. I carefully fililed it flat, which got rid of some of the bevelling caused by flaking. Some of the rest of that will be improved by the top sanding. But it won’t be as nice as if I’d been more careful!


Bottom of inlay smoothed flush with keychest edge

In the long run, it’ll probably be okay, and no one will know except us. It might need another dab of tinted glue in any remaining divots…

Now, where did that other couple wander off to?

Right couple – glued in

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Last night I also glued in the marquetry after first doing a test fit. It fit real nicely with hardly any recess edge trimming. I went ahead and used the Elmers yellow wood glue that the marquetry was put together with. Mixed in some mahogany sawdust I had saved, to hopefully have the glue fill and disguise any edges that didn’t fit exactly. Put in several layers of wax paper, which should help press down the thinner pieces, and also keep any oozing glue from sticking to my clamping board. Popsicle sticks are to protect the good wood from the clamps.


Clamps holding gluing marquetry flat

Note sawdust-colored glue in background on white paper. The glue was definitely more viscous with the sawdust in it.

I let it sit all the next day, and had the unveiling in the evening after I got home from work tonight…


Marquetry inlay glued in position, before bottom edge is trimmed flush

No glue oozed out, to speak of. Hope it’s in there good and solid! You can see in the photo it is recessed slightly from the edge of the mahogany. I didn’t intend to have it sit that low, but it should be okay with extra sanding.

Right couple – recess cut

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Tonight I cut the recess for the inlay…


Marquetry clamped in place for scoring the outline onto keychest part

Thankfully, there was no real damage to the marquetry tracing it. No one lost their head, or anything, this time. Some places wanted to flake/split off, and I just quickly put a tiny spot of glue on it to keep from losing the slivers.


With marquetry removed, the lines were deepened with the X-acto knife

The magnifier is a must for working around these edges, if you want an accurate fit.


Next, the knife was used to bevel edge inward to make planing easier

This is where Jerry came to the rescue again, letting me borrow his little hand plane. I planed out the interior area three times, increasing the depth each time. I had to be very careful not to gouge my outlines.


Completed recess with plane and magnifier

It came out great, but a little deeper than I intended. I expected the thicker veneers to be slightly above the level of the keychest piece, and the thinner ones slightly below. It turned out with the thicker ones about level with the keychest. Oh well, just a little more overall sanding should do it. I have to be careful to do the other one close to the same depth.


Closeup of recess for inlay

Right couple – silhouetted

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

I went ahead and cut out the right couple tonight, a very delicate operation!  Pushing down the knife blade would, like a wedge, sometimes make nearby glue joints split apart, and without a solid background piece, it would have been easy for the thing to fall apart like a puzzle. Some pieces tried to split. The girl’s head came off, since there was basically one almost straight joint where her neck met her collar. I left her head off to clean out the area between their faces, then glued it back on. The other real delicate part is the thin brim of the guy’s hat.


Silhouetted right-hand couple with girl's head glued back on

Remember that hurdy-gurdy I’m supposedly making? Time to return to an actual part of it — that keychest piece I keep talking about inlaying!


Right couple sitting on keychest in area where they'll be inlaid

By the way, I’ve never done this before. My other marquetry pictures included the background veneer, and the whole rectangular thing was glued onto a thick board. It has never been cut out into a complex shape and inlaid into a piece of wood, so this should be interesting. It better work right!

Keychest dancers 4

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

I finished cutting and inserting all the veneer pieces in the two dancing couples this evening, including adding the hair for each of them, which was going to be laser-etched originally. The outside edges of the pieces are oversized for final trimming all at one time, to remove from the waste veneer.


Completed marquetry figures ready for final silhouette-cutting

Next will be the major step of cutting out the two couples as separate units. They will be pretty fragile. Those silhouettes will be used as templates to trace the outlines on the side of the keychest with an X-acto knife. Recesses will then be made for them to go into. The depth of the recesses will be critical.


The back, "working side" showing some of the trim outlines

Above you can see the messier reverse “working side” of the pictures, from where the pieces are cut and glued in with Elmer’s Carpenter Wood Glue smeared on with a toothpick. Some of the trim lines can be seen on the lighter pieces. The veneers are different thicknesses. The goal is to have them flat on the back side, so all the little pieces will be able to adhere well onto the wood of the keychest. The top sides are the uneven ones, and eventually leveled by sanding. I will lightly sand the backs, to make sure that gluing surface is fairly flat.

Polish Christmas carols

Monday, December 6th, 2010

I thought it was time for some Christmas music — on the hurdy-gurdy, of course! I couldn’t find very many to choose from on YouTube. So, here’s something different, a couple of Polish Christmas carols by Krystian Pisowicz.

It has a close-up view of an interesting-looking keybox. The top row of keys are above the strings, and it has a gap in the box between the two rows, where I assume the box opens, as well as  having a lid…? It sure is high off the soundboard.